The expansion project at Wayne Farms’ poultry plant in Dothan, Alabama, is nearing completion, and once finished, the company will be able to double its capacity at the plant.
Wayne Farms announced in May 2015 that it intends to expand the plant there by building an additional 42,000 square feet to the already existing structure. It has also been renovating a portion of the plant. Nearly one year later, the expansion is nearing completion and hiring has begun.
“Part of the project was to renovate a portion of the building, and then add to it,” said Brad Williams, area complex manager for Wayne Farms of Alabama. “We most recently moved into the renovated portion of the facility, and we’ve hired a little over 200 people and put those people to work in the last couple of weeks, training them for jobs that we’re going to have them do.”
Williams added that company staff members are also moving into the new portion of the facility, and by the middle of May, Wayne Farms will be hiring an additional 200 people as they prepare to start another kill line.
“By the end of August, we will have doubled our capacity,” said Williams. “All told, we’re going to hire over 600 hourly people, add about 30 salaried jobs and double our capacity here in Dothan.”
The plant will double the amount of kill lines, and three weighing lines will also be added, he said.
When the expansion is completed, the Dothan plant will be able to process about 1.3 million birds per week.
Wayne Farms returns deboning operations to Dothan plant
With the plant expansion, Wayne Farms will see deboning operations return to Dothan after being discontinued in 2014. While the change then didn’t affect the number of birds processed at the facility, it did affect the number of jobs at the plant.
The expansion brings with it high-tech processing operations, that include bird deboning through an automated process, said Williams.
Some of the boneless chicken products produced at the company’s Dothan plant include “boneless portioned and marinated files, along with all the other parts,” said Williams. There is also the potential for Wayne Farms to process other marinated products.
More growers added to accommodate increased capacity
Since Wayne Farms will be doubling its capacity with the expanded plant, it had to increase the number of grower contracts it had.
Approximately 120 chicken houses have been added to the region to support that growth, with most farms having 3-4 houses. Williams said the construction of those new poultry houses is “all on track,” to meet the company’s timeline.
Contruction of new feed mill progressing
To help feed the growing number of chickens in the region being raised for Wayne Farms, the company has decided to construct a new feed mill in Dale County, Alabama.
The company broke ground on the new feed mill in August 2015, and the construction process is now well underway.
According to Wayne Farms spokesman Frank Singleton, when completed, it will be the largest feed mill in the United States, with an ability to produce 25,000 tons of feed per week.
Williams said the new feed mill will service all of the new poultry farms, as well as “part of the rest of our farms in south Alabama.”
Much of the concrete work is completed at the site, Williams said. The new feed mill is expected to be online about one year from now.
Many former Wayne Farms workers returning
Many of the workers that lost their jobs when the company discontinued the deboning lines have been hired to fill openings created with the expansion in Dothan. Williams said he was happy there is a skilled workforce in the area and that many talented workers that were eager to return.
“We’re glad to see them and they’re glad to see us,” Williams said. “It’s been almost like a homecoming the last few weeks.”